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Why We Love Winter Trail Work

Posted by Nicole Masih-Theberge at Feb 15, 2023 09:57 AM |

Trail work is a year-round endeavor for WTA. Winter lends itself to work on the Trails Next Door campaign, which focuses on trails close to urban communities. Joining a work party isn't just an opportunity to work on trails — it's a chance to build community.

WTA has a vision: Trails for Everyone, Forever. This means all kinds of trails, for all kinds of people, year-round. While it can be fun and rewarding to get into the mountains and to visit snowy, remote landscapes, winter can also be a time for slowing down and revisiting the joys of nearby hikes and nature. It’s also a great time to remember that during the winter months, WTA is still doing trail work. We focus on projects at lower elevations and trails close to or in urban centers.

Winter lends itself to work on the Trails Next Door campaign focused on close-in trails, like Wind River Arboretum in Southwest Washington. It is one of the oldest arboretums in the Northwest, close to the towns of Carson and Stevenson. Wind River Trust has been working to restore the park and uphold the history and beauty of the arboretum. Several decades of very little maintenance had left much of the original plants obscured by overgrown vegetation and the trails in disrepair. WTA supports the work of Wind River Trust by maintaining the network of family-friendly trails there. In 2022, WTA had four work parties at the arboretum, working to reclaim trails that had slowly been erased by time.

WTA workers perform trail maintenance in an area with heavy vegetation.
Trail work at Wind River Arboretum. Photo by Stasia Honnold.

“I love the arboretum very much,” said Stasia Honnold, WTA’s Southwest regional coordinator. “It has been a great spot to introduce people to trail work.” 

Work parties at Wind River Arboretum have taken place in every season, including winter. It’s usually easily accessible when many other trails are covered in snow. When days are short, it’s also easier for folks to get to nearby trails that aren’t as far from town.

Stasia says that the arboretum is interesting in winter, when trees have lost their leaves. It makes it easier to see other trees, like the monkey puzzle tree, and to see the shapes of the deciduous trees.

“Winter trail work is its own kind of magic,” Stasia said. “It’s peaceful in the winter; it feels quieter. You can hear and see the birds. People bring their warm thermoses of soup and, at lunchtime, there’s steam everywhere.” 

Our winter work parties also give the crews a chance to connect in a new way. 

“There’s a sense of unspoken camaraderie — we’re all out here in the winter and we’re all willing to show up. There’s a sense of togetherness that comes from that,” she said.

Even if you are not into snow or winter travel in the mountains, WTA has projects year-round to make sure time in nature is at your fingertips. If you value time on trails in the winter, we hope you’ll put on your wool or synthetic layers and join us!

This article originally appeared in the Spring 2023 issue of Washington Trails Magazine. Support trails as a member of WTA to get your one-year subscription to the magazine.